3 November 2016
Volunteer Michael with service user Sabita at Macmillan centre in Southampton
Southampton’s Macmillan Information and Support Centre manager is appealing for volunteers to help run their vital information and support service for people affected by cancer.
Andrea Lodge, who manages the Macmillan Information and Support Centre at Southampton General Hospital explains; “We currently have around 20 volunteers who meet and greet anyone who comes through the door, where we offer comprehensive information and holistic support in a safe and welcoming environment. In 2015 the Macmillan Centre reached 16,093 people affected by cancer, providing support through services such as complementary therapies, supportive listening, counselling and welfare benefits advice.
‘We are very fortunate to have such a great team of long standing volunteers, but we are now increasingly short of support staff on certain days so we are looking to add to our amazing team.’
One such volunteer is Anne Barnes from Freemantle, who has been helping out since visiting the centre when her husband was unwell; she described it as ‘a peaceful haven’ and the experience stayed with her. Anne said; “We see people who are in for a therapy session, and people who just want to spend some time away of the hustle and bustle of the hospital. Sometimes they might be tearful if they’ve been given some difficult news. We help them to come to terms with it, sometimes they leave with a smile and hopefully feeling a lot more positive than when they first came in.”
Michael Bainger from West End is another long-standing volunteer, and understands that coming through the door can cause some trepidation having also once been a visitor. After five years of volunteering, he joked that you’d have to drag him out now! He said; “From the moment people step through the door, the absolute key is to be immediately recognising of them and offer a warm welcome. Our reward? That we can offer them something at that time. You just hope to do your best, and that it is enough for them.”
Having been diagnosed with cancer last September, Sabita Lawson visited the centre. She explained; ‘Michael was the first person I saw when I came in the centre- he’s a cheery little soul! I’m a confident person but it can be scary to walk through the centre door when you don’t know what to expect. He was so kind – he offered me everything from drinks, to information on financial support and complementary therapies. Anybody who volunteers at the centre wants to be here and wants to help, you can feel that when you walk in. They’re not judging you – you can cry, smile, laugh – anything you feel at the time. They’re awesome people, angels really.’
Macmillan Centre Manager Andrea reiterated the need for support, saying; “Without our volunteers, the centre couldn’t exist – with their help we are able to support around 250 visitors each week.
“If this role appeals to you, and you are able to regularly give a few hours to help, we’d love to hear from you. Volunteers really are priceless and I’m sure that anyone who has visited our centre would agree.”
To find out more about volunteering at the centre, please contact Andrea on 02381 206503, email MacmillanCentre@uhs.nhs.uk, or alternatively visit the Macmillan Centre at Southampton General Hospital, East Wing Courtyard, B Level.